Habits and Your Business


Article by Kristine CareyHave you ever stopped to notice what habits you’ve gotten into, especially around work? Habits have been on my mind lately, in particular how to develop good habits. My fascination began when I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and I recently learned more about habits when a colleague introduced me to the work of B.J. Fogg, a teacher at Stanford and an expert in business innovation and habit formation.

Habits are the backbone of daily life; the more you can put on autopilot, the more you free up brain space to do something else. And you can develop habits that support your business, as well as good health and whatever else helps you feel good in your life and business.

While both Duhigg and Fogg talk about habit formation, Fogg’s approach is super simple, which he calls Tiny Habits®. Curious, I spent last week participating in his weekly Tiny Habits event and decided to test something which has no major impact on my business; an experiment that was OK if it did or didn’t work. I used something I don’t really like doing, so it was a good test of his system: I spent the week focusing on doing my dishes (by hand, no dishwasher at my house).

Here’s how it works: Fogg asks you to find a habit that you already do without thinking, then use that as an anchor for your new habit. Right after you do your regular habit, you’ll do a micro version of the habit you’d like to establish. In my case, I chose to wash one dish after breakfast each day. I always eat breakfast, so my anchor was strong, and although it would be nice to do all the dishes in the sink, Fogg recommends keeping the micro habit so ridiculously simple it’s almost impossible not to do it. Last week feels like a blur of suds and water, as I found myself not always doing a dish right after breakfast as I’d planned; instead, I found myself randomly washing dishes during the course of the day. All in all, my dishes were cleaned more often than they were the week before, and for that I’m giving Tiny Habits the thumbs up.

Why am I sharing all this with you? Because while I’ve always known that habits are powerful, I’m even more aware now how much they can either be helpful, or impede progress. Understanding the habit mechanism, which Duhigg explains well, then adding in a level of uber-simplicity, which Fogg does well, makes it even more possible to create habits that support you in your business goals. Here are a few examples of habits that could be useful for your business:

  • Having a set time to return calls and emails each day.
  • Having a regular set of marketing activities designed to keep your pipeline full and your follow-up on track.
  • Taking one afternoon each week to brainstorm and create a new offering in your business.
  • Taking one afternoon a week to go play and refill your creative well.

Each week, experiment with different ways of approaching a task so that it gets done more easily; pick a different approach until you hit on a way that feels like the right one.

Now that you’ve started to reflect on this, what habits do you have that support your business? What habits would you like to develop that could make work easier? Take five minutes to run through your day and week and jot down the habits that currently work for you, then list a few you’d like to develop. Put your list on your bulletin board and prepare to run an experiment this week. Read The Power of Habit for background if you’d like, or cut right to Tiny Habits and get going immediately. And good luck as you start developing your new habits!

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